Between Split and Dubrovnik
Crossing tacks in Croatia
Just a few miles from Dubrovnik, the island of Lopud is a haven of peace, free of modern construction and free of cars. In this small natural port, we gradually discover paths heavy with phytosporum, a 15th century church with its cloister towering above the sea and, a bit further afield, the patrician dwellings tucked away in the subtropical vegetation. On Mljet, we find some very well protected shelters, hidden in some deep gullies. The island is ranked as a national park and we find some really beautiful forest walks there. The stopover in Okuklje is synonymous with calm itself at the foot of a pine forest. In Luka Polace, the alternative is between anchoring and tying up at a private wharf for the two or three restaurants along the quay, in return for a meal on site. And there we make a good choice with an innkeeper who smilingly invites us to use his facilities and other services and then treats us to his Dalmatian specialities in the evening: grilled fish and beef, octopus salad, smoked ham, mussel risotto and fried squid. At each stage, you can choose between an open roadstead in an isolated creek and a stopover in an authentic little port with its stone quays built by the Venetians, its ancient church and its sloping lanes embellished with bougainvillea. On the itinerary we’ve been following from the legendary citadel of Dubrovnik, we’ve put into a different island every evening that week.
Exceptional heritage and villages from another time
The Bosnian mountain range serves as a backdrop to the Dalmatian coast. After making landfall in Dubrovnik, the route which leads to the marina climbs up a cliff road. Then, as we round a bend the pearl of the Adriatic appears before us, standing tall in the middle of a Mediterranean bay of azure blue, surrounded by verdant cliffs. Fortified in the 13th century, today Dubrovnik is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world. Within the city walls, everything dazzles, from the paved streets, to a tour of the ramparts, a stroll beneath the arcades or on the steps of the palace. Though you can’t always avoid the stream of tourists in Dubrovnik, the marina, some six kilometres away, is laid out in a much quieter setting. Casting off aboard our Lagoon 380 Sunsail, we get a nice surprise the minute we’re out of the channel with the discovery of a still virgin Dalmatian coast. A spot of improvisation is on the cards for the first short leg as we make a stopover at Sipan, the golden isle. Here the villagers still get around in delivery tricycles and draw water from wells. The anchorage appears to be well protected, but overnight a small depression causes several yachts to drag their anchor so do watch out! The island of Korcula plays host to another historic city where palaces from the Renaissance rub shoulders with bastions from the age of the knights. In this peaceful area, the lanes are either curved when they plunge eastwards, or straight when they head westwards. This subtlety enables the promontory to be caressed solely by the summer breezes and never by the formidable burra, a bitter wind which sometimes picks up in winter. Among the island’s legends is the fact that Marco Polo was born here and his house can be visited. The only certainty is that he was captured there on 7 September 1298.
Hikes and relaxation on the terraces
In the Pakleni archipelago, we go around the island of Saint Klement to reach a superb creek known as Vinogradisce, from whence we set off to explore the different footpaths. On the one side, the path traverses the botanical hillside garden, which surrounds the museum-restaurant owned by the Meneghello family. There we sample the delights of grilled fish amidst the lush vegetation. On the other slope, beautiful views across the Palmizana marina, teeming with pine trees, open up before us. Just opposite there the following day, we head off to discover the medieval citadel of Hvar, which is a Croatian Saint Tropez. There are two means of access: take a short shuttle service from Palmizana or temporarily anchor in Hvar’s little cove, though the latter isn’t without risk as it’s a bit of a free-for-all… Surveillance is compulsory! What follows is a guided tour of the Fortica fortress (Spanjola) and the Franciscan monastery, before trekking up to the Napoleon fort from where the panorama looks out across the bay. Our copious cultural programme continues with a guided tour of the medieval city of Trogir. We stroll along the narrow shaded lanes, enjoy a quick drink on the quayside at the foot of the citadel and dine in the open air beneath an arbour decked with flowers inside the ramparts. The following day, we anchor at noon in Bobovisce, on the wild island of Brac. We swim as far as the shore and dive off a rocky cliff. In the evening we dine along the quays lining the fishing village of Milna. We have a drink in a lively cafe: fruit cocktails, Croatian beer or Prosek liqueur according to your taste. In Mala Luka, on the island of Drvenik, we are practically alone at the anchorage for lunch, amidst the little coloured boats. We then make for Kremik, a functional marina, at a site of no particular interest; however it does serve as good base from which to enjoy a great selection of routes. So is Croatia overrun? In this country which has (virtually) no large beaches, sailing is king. Outside a few places which are a Mecca for tourists, you don’t often find crowds of people along the 450 mile stretch of the Adriatic coast, punctuated by six hundred islands, just sixty or so of which are inhabited. Even though four or five thousand yachts are available for charter today, you have 350 anchorages, 40 marinas and as many little natural ports to accommodate you. In the far South, the Dalmatian coast is a concentration of all the cruising charms in Croatia. Over the course of a week, setting out from Kremik, you can head eastwards to Hvar and foray westwards into the Sibenik Bay, as far as the waterfalls of Krk. Setting out from Dubrovnik, you can do a varied looped circuit towards Korcula or even head eastwards towards the superb bays of Montenegro. Otherwise, you could do as we’ve shown you here, with a one way course between the two Sunsail bases of Kremik and Dubrovnik.
Flights Basel-Split return from 450 CHF Connections Split-Kremik: 60 CHF
Sunsail yacht charter
(Tel: 022/ 730 47 81 - www.fert.ch)
Meylan Yachting (Tel: 022/ 300 12 01)
Mid-May to early October.
Breezes generally light and variable in the morning, steadier in the afternoon, especially at the beginning and end of the season. Moderate winds in July and August.
Examples of 7 day itineraries
• Dubrovnik - Lopud - Mljet (Okuklje) - Korcula - Mljet (Luka Polace) - Sipanska Luka - Dubrovnik
• Kremik - Trogir - Brac (Milna) - Hvar - Solta (Maslinica) - Rogoznica - Krk - Primosten - Kremik
• Kremik - Drvenik - Solta - Vis - Saint Klement - Hvar - Stari Grad - Brac - Kremik
Croatian Kuna (CHF 1.- = HRK 5.)
Croatian, with English, German and Italian spoken in the tourist destinations.
Crotian tourist ofﬁce
Badenerstraße, 332, Zürich Tél: 043/ 336 20 30.